Youth-friendly health centre opens in Almaty 

NUR-SULTAN – A youth-friendly health centre opened in Almaty July 11 as part of the Year of the Youth. The Place Where You Are Always Welcome is a resource hub providing information and services for young people on ways to develop life skills and prepare for the challenges of adulthood.

The project, supported by the Ministry of Healthcare, the Almaty city administration and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), offers the services of a gynaecologist, andrologist, psychologist, social worker and other experts, reported the UNFPA press service. 

“When empowered and given the right opportunities, young people are effective drivers of change. How well they navigate adolescence will determine not only the course of their own lives, but that of their communities and society at large. Realising the full potential of youth without investing in their health is unimaginable. The youth-friendly health centre will be a facility where girls and boys can find answers to questions concerning their physical, emotional and psychological development and life skills, such as ways to build confidence, become an inspiring leader and many other important skills,” said UNFPA Representative for Kazakhstan and Country Director for Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan Giulia Vallese. 

The worldwide community adopted a programme of action in 1994 during the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Egypt. The decision marked a paradigm shift in the way the global community viewed the interlinkages between population dynamics, sexual and reproductive health and rights and sustainable development. This year, Denmark, Kenya and UNFPA will host a summit Nov. 12-14 marking the programme’s 25th anniversary. 

“The Nairobi Summit is an opportunity to recommit to the main goals agreed in Cairo and to promote the rights and dignity of individuals, including on the right to choose when and how many children to have, to have access to modern methods of contraception and to eliminating gender-based violence, which are prerequisites to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Promoting youth leadership has been identified as one of the accelerators needed to achieve a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe and every young person’s potential can be fulfilled,” said Vallese.

According to a recent survey on the status of youth sexual and reproductive health and their access to sexual and reproductive health services and information, approximately one third of Kazakh adolescents aged 15-19 are sexually active and the vast majority (91 percent) are not sufficiently aware of HIV and AIDS. The number of teenage pregnancies “remains unacceptably high in comparison with other Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, while the unmet need for contraception remains high.”

“When you are a teenager, you may be exposed to many risks – peer pressure, bullying, risky behaviour, including risky sexual behaviours, and more. It is important to have the correct information, to learn to say ‘no’ and resist peer pressure, but most importantly to have the choice and power to make decisions that will be fundamental for your future live. By visiting this centre and participating in its activities, we can empower youth to make healthy choices in areas that concern their lives. The Astana Declaration on ‘Investing in Youth. Leaving No One Behind’ enumerates it all,” said Y-PEER Youth Network member Aiym Olzhabai.